2 Ways to Solidify Your Musical Performance

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Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’ll be sharing two ways to solidify your musical performance. Say you have a piece of music you’ve worked on for a long time. You can play it pretty well, but not every time. Maybe when you’re alone at home, it comes out perfectly sometimes. Then, for no reason you can discern, things fall apart. It’s just not dependably solid. Is there anything you can do about that? Yes! I’m going to give you two completely different methods for solidifying your musical performance.

Take out the score and play slowly with raised fingers.

Whether it’s a piece you’re playing with the music or a piece you’ve memorized, get out the score, put it on your music rack, get out your metronome, take your foot off the pedal, and play slowly with raised fingers. What’s this about raised fingers? When you play with raised fingers, it trains your hands which fingers are down and which fingers are up. Everything is exaggerated. When you play a piece over and over again, after a while, your hands just naturally go to the right keys. But then you’ve done it so many times, you don’t even know what your hands are doing. They’re kind of doing it all on their own! You lose sense of the intellectual understanding of what you’re doing.

When you take out a metronome and you play something slowly with raised fingers, it ingrains the music into your hands and into your ears.

This is a great way to solidify your performance. You would be surprised how productive it is going through your music even once like that. And obviously, if there are any parts that you can’t play perfectly at that slow speed, then it’s going to show up like a sore thumb! It’s like putting your playing under a microscope when you play that slowly and intentionally. Anything that isn’t solid is going to be obvious. So that’s a great way to solidify your musical performance. The other way I’m going to show you is completely different.

Take a piece you can play and play it faster than you usually do.

Take a piece that you can already play and you want to solidify. You can play the piece, but every now and then something falls apart. It seems very random where things fall apart. How do you figure out what to practice? Go through your music faster than you usually do. When you miss something, that is the weak point. Zero in on the ten or twenty percent of the piece that you can’t play at that faster tempo. Those are the weakest parts. Then you’ve just zeroed in on what to practice! A shotgun approach to practicing is not very efficient. You don’t need to practice equally on everything. This is a great way to discover what needs work.

You can practice those trouble sections in innumerable ways.

You can practice hands separately. You can do progressively, faster metronome speeds, starting from a slow tempo and working your way up a notch at a time. You can practice little snippets and put the little snippets together. There are many different ways of practicing. But for identifying where to put your practice time in, this is a great technique!

So to recap, there are two ways you can solidify your pieces of music that you can already play.

One is to play with raised fingers. Use the score and a metronome with no pedal. Really delineate and articulate everything with precision. Sink in and feel every finger. Then there’s the polar opposite. Play everything a little bit faster than you usually do. See what places you can’t keep up and focus your practice on those sections. These are two tips for you! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

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Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

4 thoughts on “2 Ways to Solidify Your Musical Performance”


 
 

  1. Brilliant tips, and hilarious IT problems (just like us mere mortals… LOL!). Thank you! N.B. however, that sometimes when I sit down cold (yes, no Hanon or scales!) and play my piece at a nice clip, even faster than normal or called for, I play perfectly! Then I immediately start to record it, or play it again as I’m so happy with myself, and fall apart. What is going on? If I let go, sit down without ruminating, play relatively fast or on tempo, it usally works!

  2. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for the very good reminders on how to solidify a piece.
    Raised fingers is a new tip for me to use in my teaching.
    I have used dynamic changes in pieces to solidify the piece,
    Technic needs to be understood but needs to be strengthened in a way to sound as if you have mastered it in your performance.Do you agree on that?
    Best wishes,
    Willene

  3. Very good handy tip.
    I also make use of enough rhythmical exercises , warm-up exercises, before the student plays the piece. The exercises would be bases on the material inside the piece.

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